The HKS Citizen (Harvard Kennedy School)
October 26, 2010
By Sanjeev Bery
Over the last two months, the US government has dramatically increased drone missile strikes in Pakistan. Unfortunately, mainstream US newspapers have not shown the inclination to ask tough questions regarding the change in policy.
In a replay of the softball coverage that preceded the second US invasion of Iraq, some of the biggest US newspapers are once again showing how easy it is to embed a pro-government bias in their reporting. The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and The New York Times have all covered the news by mostly quoting US officials while ignoring critics. Continue reading “US newspapers ignore drone missile critics”
Alternating between criticism and praise, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke about US-Pakistan relations at the Harvard Kennedy School on Monday, October 18th. Qureshi was at HKS on the eve of a US-Pakistan strategic dialogue with senior US officials in Washington DC.
In his comments, Qureshi offered blunt criticism of the history of US foreign policy towards Pakistan. “We see half a century of indisputable, empirical evidence of the US dancing with dictators who subverted human rights, using our people and soldiers as surrogates in proxy wars,” he stated.
It is time to set aside the notion that U.S. drone missile attacks in Pakistan are some kind of secret. The pretense of secrecy has saved Obama Administration officials from having to publicly defend the military tactic.
It’s a situation Andrew Wilder, F89, F96, knows all too well. A research director for the Feinstein International Center since early 2007, he managed humanitarian aid and development programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan for 10 years … Born and raised in Pakistan, Wilder came to the United States to attend college.
According to Wilder:
The more money we try to spend in this environment, which has very limited human resources and institutional capacity, inevitably money overflows into the pockets of corrupt officials. Our aid programs are actually fueling the corruption, which is de-legitimizing the government, which is fueling instability.
The U.S. State Department is now tracking the number of emails received opposing U.S. drone missile attacks in Pakistan. What will the final number be?
50? 500? 5000?
After emailing the State Department to oppose drone missile attacks, I received the message below. You may have as well. This means that senior State Department officials will eventually get a report on the total emails received.
I understand the difficulty of auditing NGOs in dangerous places like the FATA tribal areas. But it seems to me that it must be possible to audit the Pakistani pass-through organizations elsewhere regularly, and that the shell game of Congress giving foreign aid to a country in a way that actually just benefits US corporations and contractors is counter-productive.
The original complaint came in the form of a “sensitive but unclassified” internal memo from US AID Development Economist C. Stuart Callison, Ph.D., criticizing the U.S. State Department’s shifts in the routing of Pakistan aid:
The latest news on US-Pakistan relations shouldn’t surprise anyone. According to the Associated Press, former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf used billions of dollars in US military aid for everything but the paymasters’ intended purpose: fighting Taliban militias.
None of this news, however, is likely to generate much Pakistani sympathy for American taxpayers. What American officials refer to as “anti-American sentiment” is actually a deep resentment of U.S. government involvement in internal Pakistani politics. It is worth noting that U.S. funding for Musharraf marked the third time we have supported Pakistani dictatorship in the country’s 60 years of history.
It is precisely this past that has come to haunt both Pakistanis and Americans today. The intersection of dictatorship and dollars has resulted in a Pakistani military that does not answer to the country’s civilian leadership. Every time American taxpayers financed an alliance with a Pakistani military dictator, we also forced Pakistani reformers to take a backseat.
It probably wasn’t the first time that someone had organized an Independence Day cricket match in Pakistan. But it almost certainly was the first time that such a match occurred between a team of professional cricket players and a team of transgendered Pakistanis.
A group of progressive Pakistani activists has published an important piece in Bangladesh’s Daily Star acknowledging and apologizing for Pakistan’s 1971 atrocities against the Bangladeshi people. The piece, We Apologize, was written by the members of Action for a Progressive Pakistan.
As the Pakistani military rains fire down upon villagers and Taliban alike, Pakistanis and members of the diaspora are engaged in numerous online debates about the future of their country. In some cases, they are offering perspectives that the rest of us should listen to.